Gilgit Baltistan: Womens’ Rights Violations Raised at UN Human Rights Council
On the occasion of the 30th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Senge Sering, representative of the World Economic & Resource Council, highlighted to what extent Islamabad’s policies induce staggering challenges to womens’ rights in the UN-declared disputed Region of Gilgit-Baltistan.
General debate – Agenda Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.
Honorable Mr. President,
WERC is deeply concerned at the worsening incidences of violence against women as ensuring equal rights, and recognizing that violence against women is a manifestation of unequal gender relations and obstacle to development and peace, is essential to building a prosperous society. We believe that one cannot think of achieving poverty reduction – the first millennium development goal – if women face torture and discrimination on regular basis. It is found that women lacking freedom are less aware of their rights. For instance, almost 90% of the women surveyed in Pakistan in 2002 did not know they deserved or had rights.
Here, the case of the women of Gilgit Baltistan region can be used as example. Pakistan citing Gilgit Baltistan’ status as disputed with India, denies the region a constitutional framework and legislative autonomy, which results in the lack of rule of law, accountability and judicial recourse governing women rights. The recent incident of men accused of raping 30 women and making videos in Gilgit; or the rape and murder cases of Shagufta Anam and Shabana Akhtar; or the case of women of Diamer being denied political rights, all indicate that the laws enshrined in the constitution should protect local women.
On occasions, authorities deny adequate support to victims like in Gilgit where recently 2 police personnel were reprimanded for assisting a rape victim. Several other examples of sexual violence by Pakistani security forces in villages along the Line of Control deserve Council’s immediate attention. Here, one can cite Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission that 90% of women in Gilgit-Baltistan face violence and that female suicide ratio in Ghizer is highest among the districts of Pakistan.
Given Gilgit Baltistan’s disputed nature, the Council has a responsibility to address the situation. In the light, the Council should demand that Pakistan:
1- Bring educational reforms to ensure learning in the mother tongue to enhance female literacy and empowerment.
2- Control radicalization and religious intolerance stemming from actors and institutions in Pakistan, Iran and Saudi Arabia. By way of example, the case of Pakistan’s Islamic Ideological Council condoning child marriage, marital rape, denying women a say in relationships or declaring existence of women as un-Islamic sends a wrong message.
I request the Council to constitute a rights monitoring mission to study the situation in Gilgit Baltistan and also request an immediate visit of the Special Rapporteur.
I thank you Ms. President
World Economic & Resource Council (unpo.org)